INDIANAPOLIS – Acquiring a player like DeForest Buckner took quite the package for the Colts to send to San Francisco.
It was a rare move, particularly for a guy like Chris Ballard, which told a much bigger story of what the Colts think of Buckner.
They believe he’s a stud, who is more than strictly a disruptive interior defensive line presence.
And when Buckner is asked to describe his playing style, he makes sure to go beyond just what he does in the trenches.
“They’re looking for a three-technique and I think I’m one of the best in the league,” Buckner says of his fit with the Colts. “I can stop the run, rush the passer, obviously I’m taller but I play with leverage. I have a lot power. My length obviously helps me a lot with trucking down whether it’s a running back or a quarterback on the run and obviously if I can’t get to the quarterback then trying to disrupt the passing lanes with my length. Just little things like that.
“I feel like I can bring my leadership whether it’s on or off the field, just being able to lead by example or speaking up when I need to address certain things. It all starts in practice. I practice how I want to play in the game, whether it’ll piss somebody off I’m just trying to perfect my craft (laughs). Every day I approach the game where if I’m not getting better, I’m getting worse.”
In particular, it’s that last comment from Buckner in which really makes him worth the price tag the Colts are paying.
Ballard has admitted that he felt his team got a bit too complacent after starting 5-2 last year.
Well, the Colts are now acquiring an All-Pro talent who witnessed first-hand an organization go from 2-14 to the doorstep of a Super Bowl Championship.
It’s why the 49ers felt the need to send out the following statement upon Buckner being traded away, with San Francisco needing to get a better handle on their cap situation and bolster their draft pick haul, while giving away a player at a deep position group.
“On behalf of the 49ers organization, I want to extend our most sincere appreciation to DeForest for his many contributions to the team and our community,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said. “It has truly been a privilege to work with DeFo these last three years and he deserves a great deal of credit for helping us to build the foundation of this team and reestablish a championship culture. He and his wife, Ashlyn, are special people and we wish them the very best in their next chapter of life.”
Buckner understood the business side of this decision from San Francisco’s point of view.
A native of Hawaii, who attended the University of Oregon, Buckner is now headed to the Midwest after signing a 5-year deal through the 2024 season.
“You can see the team that Chris Ballard has put together over the years. It’s a really special team,” Buckner says. “They have a lot of young talent and a lot of good key guys on all phases of the ball. Being able to be an addition, it’s kind of a win-now mentality. We landed Philip Rivers and everything. I am just excited for the mentality of the team moving forward. Two years ago they were 10-6 and last year took a hit obviously losing their franchise quarterback to retiring early. But you still saw last year they were in a bunch of close games that came down to the last play down there and just came up short. So I am excited moving forward and just ready to get things rolling.”
The excitement Buckner has out in his current hometown of Fresno, California is felt some 2,100 miles away in Indianapolis.
What Ballard mentioned as a massive need earlier this offseason has been filled courtesy of a 6-7, 300-pounder.
“DeForest is a premier defensive tackle in this league and we’re thrilled to add him to our roster,” Ballard says. “Adding a player of his caliber demonstrates the importance and commitment of building a strong defensive front. He will bring a veteran presence to our locker room and will lead with his work ethic. DeForest’s consistency as a pro on and off the field will make us a better team.”